Dr. SunWolf is a former trial attorney, appellate lawyer, and Training Director for Colorado’s Public Defender Office, as well as faculty at the University of Denver Law School. She teaches at continuing education programs throughout the country. Her research focuses on social influence during group decision making, exclusion in childhood groups, and the intersection of neuroscience and social behaviors. An expert on jury deliberations and persuasion, her award-winning research examines the dynamics of what really happens inside juryrooms. She is the originator of Decisional Regret Theory, which explains how jurors attempt to reduce the anxiety of anticipated verdict-regret by sharing counterfactual what-if stories during deliberation.
B.A. Psychology, California State University-Fresno, summa cum laude
J.D. Law, University of Denver, College of Law
M.A. Communication, University of California-Santa Barbara
Thesis: Jurors’ Intuitive Rules for Deliberation: A Structurational Approach to Communication in Jury Decision Making
Ph.D. Communication, University of California-Santa Barbara
Dissertation: Unlocking the Jury Box: Structure, Leadership, and Storytelling in Jury Deliberations
Areas of Specialization
Persuasion, Neuroscience and Social Behaviors, Trial Advocacy, Jury Deliberations
Affiliations and Honors
Santa Clara University’s research award for scholarship over the past five years by a tenured faculty member whose scholarly work over the previous five years represents a major contribution to a field of knowledge (2008).
Practical Jury Dynamics2: From One Juror’s Trial Perceptions to the Group’s Decision-Making Processes (LexisNexis) received the Ernest Bormann Book Award from the National Communication Association (2008).
(2011) Distinguished Award for a Special Journal Issue, Applied Communication Division of the National Communication Association, for “Jury Deliberation in a Capitol Murder Case,” Small Group Research, in which the following two articles appeared:
SunWolf. (2010). Counterfactual thinking in the jury room. Small Group Research, 41(4), 474-494.
SunWolf (2010). Investigating jury deliberation in a capital murder case. Small Group Research, 41(4), 380-385. [Introduction to the Special Issue]
(2005) Most Outstanding Scholarly Article, National Communication Association, Applied Communication Division, journal publication selected for its significant contribution to scholarship in applied communication theory, research, and practice:
SunWolf, & Leets. L. (2004). Being left out: Rejecting outsiders and communicating group boundaries in childhood and adolescent peer groups. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 32(3), 195-223.
(2000) First Annual Dennis S. Gouran Research Award,National Communication Association, Group Communication Division, most outstanding scholarly journal article in previous two years, for:
SunWolf, & Seibold, D. R. (1998). Jurors’ intuitive rules for deliberation: A structurational approach to the study of communication in jury decision making. Communication Monographs, 65, 282-307.
(2005) Award for Career Dedication to Pro Bono Work, The American Society of Trial Consultants, “In honor of your efforts to ensure compelling advocacy for indigent and capital defendants.” Recipient of the first individual award, which was presented at the annual conference, Philadelphia, PA.